Archive for January, 2012

“Thigh-Highs, the Crown Jewel of the Sock Family”

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Nice, although I believe “crown jewel” is an English term, whereas this is decidedly French scenery.

Well, we shall have to find a way to make do. We learned to live with a bald French Starship Captain speaking with an English accent, so I’m sure we’ll adapt here. This looks easier than that anyway, and a lot more fun.

From The Chive.

Newsbusted 1/31/12

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Some of these are better than others…yes, it’s somewhat tedious the way they loop the laugh track, and I find the “Woo!” guy to be particularly grating.

But the material does change from episode to episode, and this one was particularly good.

And there’s no getting around it, Jodi Miller is a cutie.

Bailing out the PIIGS

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Big infographic, 3000 pixels tall…

From here.

Hat tip to Kate at Small Dead Animals.

Socialism works great. It just needs you & everyone you know, to pick up the check and pay for it all. File under “people in debt don’t like anyone else to be out of debt.”

Joe Friday Schools Obama

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

These have been up for awhile, but ya know, somehow they never get old:

And then, Sgt. Friday joined Sheriff Babeu and gave our Attorney General an earful:

Dancy’s Dream

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Other times, he swears he smells the flowers in her hair…

“No Fair, No Fair, Shut Up”

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Buffett translated.

Politico explains that “for the moment, the White House wants to keep the attention focused on Obama’s argument that it’s unfair to tax Buffett’s secretary at a higher rate than her boss.” My translation: The White House wants to keep the propaganda undiluted.

Happy Birthday to FDR

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Burt Folsom wishes him one, but it isn’t all flattering:

If FDR were alive today, and healthy, he would be celebrating his 130th birthday–and possibly launching his campaign for a 21st term as president of the United States. How might his campaign in 2012 compare with that of Barack Obama, who says he admires FDR very much?

They both like class warfare elections because class warfare takes attention away from a failing presidency and puts the focus on their opponents, who are often trying to free up the economy for investment. In other words, much is similar in the re-election campaign of FDR in 1936 and that of President Obama in 2012.
:
In 1937, perhaps thinking of his next reelection campaign, he told two prominent Democrats, Senator Pat Harrison and Rep. Robert Doughton, that if they would form a “subcommittee to investigate tax avoidance,” that the Democrats would gain “at least 10,000,000 [votes]” by publicly shaming those who sheltered income. In other words, there were votes to be gained among the mass of lower-and-middle-income voters by making them envious of the high incomes earned by their employers.

The class warfare tactic worked for FDR in 1936, but in 2012 the opponents of that theme may be wiser, more articulate, and more effective. We shall see.

If that is what the 2012 election is going to be all about, then I have a question I hope resonates throughout the year:

What exactly is “fair share”?

I was encouraged to see President Obama say thirty percent on a million dollars. It sounds specific enough, but questions remain. I do not know if that is a million dollars adjusted gross income; nor do I know what the thirty percent is, is that an overall rate or a marginal tax rate? There are residual questions about what the effect of such a policy would be if it were to pass, and there are more questions about whether it would pass.

I have other questions about the persuasive power of such a proposal, although my questions do not concern whether the persuasive power is there, since I’m sure it is. I’m more concerned about who these voters are. Who are they? They’d stay home otherwise…maybe vote for a Republican…but with a little bit of “rich should pay their fair share” in the chilly November air, they’ll brave the nippy weather and a few raindrops to put Obama back in office, so He can raise someone else’s bill. That motivates them.

Who are these people, exactly? The generations come, the generations go, and I must be really dense because I’m still not getting it…I don’t even begin to understand this…

“No Mas, Mr. President”

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Victor Davis Hanson, hat tip to Gerard: Perpetual campaign mode isn’t working.

The State of the Union could have been written by a computer program. All the now familiar Obama furniture was in the room: the mock outrage at “them,” the psychodramatic first-person boasting (as in, “I will oppose…,” “I will not work with…,” “I will decline…,” “I will not stand by…,” “I will not cede…,” “I will not walk away…,” “I will not back down…,” “I will not go back…”); the now customary rear-view-mirror jab at his fading predecessor; the monotonous promising that something is so bad that we must have a new program for it (each year the same threat, the same solution, the same failure); and the silence about the Obama legacy of stimulus, debt, and ObamaCare.

But the people are tired and simply by now shut their ears.

The President’s approval numbers seem to have bottomed-out on bedrock. On the other hand, that bedrock is rather high, somewhere in the range of low 40′s.

On the other hand, President Obama, like all politicians nowadays, is something of a scavenger. He doesn’t drive a high approval rating; he receives it, as bleed-off, a hand-me-down of sorts from whatever agenda to which He is seen by the electorate as harmoniously aligned. He says He is in favor of X, and if X is okay with the public, then His popularity ticks upward a little bit. But…only if He seems sincere about it and has the history to back it up.

In other words, at this point He doesn’t even have agility going for Him anymore. He would not be able to, say for example, tout the benefits of allowing the job creators to keep more of their money so they could create more jobs, and keep the government out of the process. Even if He were inclined to take a position like this, He’d be called out and it wouldn’t work. He has to do what mediocre public speakers do, and stick to His knitting.

President Obama does do better at public speaking than the average bear. But at this point, that is nothing but a footnote of recent history. He enjoys all the momentum that would be enjoyed, at this time, by any other leftist democrat — as a champion of one side of many discussions that polarize us. That is the source of His forty percent. There is no other except…well…maybe some white guilt thrown into the mix. That, and the sheer inertia that imbues a sharp ego and dull wit that can’t admit it made a mistake at the ballot box three years ago.

It must be an awful job to be an Obama speechwriter; the job seems to have no impact on anything whatsoever. Maybe there is no such thing.

This Is Good XCIII

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Becoming a Old Buzzard at the Taco Bell:

$5.37! That’s what the kid behind the counter at Taco Bell said to me.

I dug into my pocket and pulled out some lint and two dimes and something that used to be a Jolly Rancher. Having already handed the kid a five-spot, I started to head back out to the car to grab some change when the kid with the Elmo hairdo said the hardest thing anyone has ever said to me.

“It’s OK. I’ll just give you the senior citizen discount.”

I turned to see who he was talking to and then heard the sound of change hitting the counter in front of me. “Only $4.68″ he said cheerfully.

I stood there stupefied. I am 61, not even 65 yet? A mere child! Senior citizen?

I took my burrito and walked out to the Taurus (some have described this wonderful ride as a old man car) wondering what was wrong with Elmo. Was he blind? As I sat in the car, my blood began to boil. Old? Me?

I’ll show him, I thought. I opened the door and headed back inside. I strode to the counter, and there he was waiting with a smile.

Before I could say a word, he held up something and jingled it in front of me, like I could be that easily distracted! What am I now? A toddler?

“Dude! Can’t get too far without your car keys, eh?” I stared with utter disdain at the keys. I began to rationalize in my mind.

“Leaving keys behind hardly makes a man elderly! It could happen to anyone!”

I turned and headed back to the Taurus. I slipped the key into the ignition, but it wouldn’t turn. What now? I checked my keys and tried another. Still nothing.

That’s when I noticed the purple beads hanging from my rear view mirror. I had no purple beads hanging from my rear view mirror.

Then, a few other objects came into focus. The car seat in the back seat. Happy Meal toys spread all over the floorboard. A partially eaten doughnut on the dashboard.

Faster than you can say ginkgo biloba, I flew out of the alien vehicle.

Moments later I was speeding out of the parking lot, relieved to finally be leaving this nightmarish stop in my life. That is when I felt it, deep in the bowels of my stomach: hunger! My stomach growled and churned, and I reached to grab my burrito, only it was nowhere to be found.

I swung the truck around, gathered my courage, and strode back into the restaurant one final time. There Elmo stood, draped in youth and black nail polish. All I could think was, “What is the world coming to?”

“Did I leave my food and drink in here”? At this point I was ready to ask a Boy Scout to help me back to my vehicle, and then go straight home and apply for Social Security benefits.

Elmo looked puzzled and announced a little too loudly, “Got no clue.” I walked back out to the truck, and suddenly a young lad came up and tugged on my jeans to get my attention. He was holding holding a drink and a bag.

His mother a cute thirty something explained, “I think you left this in my truck by mistake.”

I took the food and drink from the little boy and sheepishly apologized.

His mother offered these kind words: “It’s OK. My grandfather does stuff like this all the time.”

All of this is to explain how I got a ticket doing 85 in a 40. Yes, I was racing some punk kid in a Toyota Prius. And no, I told the officer, I’m not too old to be driving this fast.

As I walked in the front door, my wife met me halfway down the hall. I handed her a bag of cold food and a $300 speeding ticket. I promptly sat in my rocking chair and covered up my legs with a blankey.

The good news was I had successfully found my way home.

Sorry to all you that are having problems reading this. I can’t find that darn font button.

It should be against the law to put such small type on a computer.

Merry Christmas to all you old buzzards out there,

Gary

On Party Membership

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Wisdom from my Hello-Kitty of Blogging account

Rather fascinating thing that’s going on here, we’ve got these famous and high-profile people using the word “Republican” to describe themselves when they don’t believe in any Republican things. I’m thinking of Meghan McCain and Ron Paul, each one of whom in fact is very passionate about some singular favorite issue, and their position on the favorite issue is *opposed* to the Republican position but, although they don’t care much about any other issue, they nevertheless repeatedly call themselves Republicans…

What is this? Is it a false flag attack? Or maybe the GOP has failed to brand itself properly and safeguard its trademark, effectively leaving an asset lying around in the dirt, unsecured, and now the unscrupulous are doing what the unscrupulous do, which is take it…

If they want to win 2012, the GOP needs to fix this. I say “democrat” and you IMMEDIATELY know what I mean…you use the word “democrat” and everyone IMMEDIATELY knows what you mean…it means to make hard work and good decision-making futile. There, just a few words [capture] it all. The democrats have this, it is definitely an advantage since people vote for things reliably only if they understand them. Republicans need to get this [back?].

Yeah, what-up with that? I keep hearing how the ranks of the independents are swelling right now because Republicans and democrats both have bad names. But does that tell the whole story, if the Republican party is suffering from the pestilence of people pretending to be among their members, when they really aren’t?

Followed up with…

When you think about it, MM&RP are doing exactly the same thing to the Republican party that Barack Obama is doing to the United States, which is to say: I love you, I’m one of you, and because I have so much love for you and you are in error, I must change you so you are picked up & put where you need to be. And for those who are studious about it, it isn’t hard to see this is a destructive effort…one feels a hint of embarrassment stooping to the level of actually pointing it out, it should be obvious…

The issue is one of trademark dilution. This is why Miss America winners are dismissed and replaced when they pose for Playboy. Your girlfriend can’t get a job at Hooters and then wear her uniform as a Halloween costume. Aristotle’s Law of Identity, A is A and all that. To violate this fundamental law of thought is a wrenchingly destructive thing for any brand name that means anything. It causes a loss of that meaning, through dilution.

What am I saying about the problem with our public debt if I vote Republican? There are a lot of people with strong opinions about this who call themselves Republicans…I think most of them would give an answer pretty close to what a Tea Party guy would say about it, that it’s out of control, our spending has to be brought back into something sane and that means cut, cut, cut — military last. That’s a good answer, it’s my answer, I agree with it. The problem is though, that there’s too much chaff in the wheat. And most of the problem of contamination comes from Republicans who are elected to Congress to do this cutting, instead doing the opposite.

But then you have these “Republicans” like Congressman Paul, who bloviates to such excess about what the military should not be doing, that it’s difficult to nail down what he thinks it should, in fact, be doing. I don’t know why, or if, he thinks we should have one. And when he calls himself a Republican and gets away with it, it doesn’t say good things for the party. It says they are tolerant and inclusive to a fault, which some people might like…I suppose…but what good is that. It does a lot of damage, because it means when I say what I think about the debt situation or the military situation, even if the legacy of the Republican party is to agree with my statements, I end up really just speaking for myself. It’s no longer a done-deal that this is the Republican position. You can’t really be accepting of much of anything, if you don’t reject anything.

The practical observation is this: This situation does not inspire anyone to go vote. It does not rouse people out of bed early on a rainy November morning to go to some public school annex building on their way to work, and stand in line.

Now the democrat party has managed to work the same situation to their advantage. I said up above that their mission is to make hard work a futility, and that is true, but they have all these voters who don’t believe in that, are actually very hard workers, and yet will vote for them anyway. So that party, too, has a problem with trademark dilution, except it doesn’t do them any harm at all, in fact it tends to work to their benefit. Now why is that?

I think what’s happening here is, obviously the two parties are pushing different ideas, and the ideas being supported by the Republican party rely on clarity for their persuasive power whereas the ideas being supported by the democrats, do not. You say, we’re gonna take that rich guy down a peg or two…if I’m of a mind to support a mission such as that, I’m not likely to jump off the bandwagon just because a new question has been created about whether or not I will be a beneficiary of this. In fact, if yet more questions arise about whether or not I’m sufficiently comfortable that maybe I should be made a target, I’m still not likely to become antagonized toward the movement even as it seeks my destruction. It’s a fascinating trait of human behavior. The democrat voter hollers himself hoarse about “I’m smart because I’m voting my interest”…his guy wins, and a new tax plan is created to do the righteous damage against those evil rich people…the tax brackets creep downward, over time, and he finds his own taxes going up because it turns out he’s one of the bad guys. His fidelity is not disrupted or disturbed even a tiny bit. A casual shrug, and some cliched recycled remark about “Oh well, we are to be judged by how we treat the least among us” or some such. (And judged by who?)

I don’t know how to explain this because I don’t understand it. In Year One, there’s all this me-against-the-world, Occupy Wall Street antipathy toward — someone or something. I’m getting slighted! In Year Two, it’s easily and breezily replaced by guilt, the emotion polar-opposite from what was there before. So the faithfulness to the party remains absolute, because it’s never really tested.

This is an enigma, since it doesn’t work that way for the Republicans. It seems anyone who challenges Ron Paul’s Republican credentials instantly receives this predictable rhetorical beat-down for insisting on “purity tests” or “lock-step loyalty” (I see it’s happening in the Facebook thread now). Well, I’m not asking for a purity test; I’m just asking that things be a little bit definable. It shouldn’t involve any sort of conflict, it seems to me everyone ought to be on my side on this thing, because I perceive there’s a widespread frustration — especially on the Republican side — with the difficulty involved in sending clear and simple messages to the cirlces of power where meaningful decisions get made, through the process of our elections.

Changing Education Paradigms

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Thanks to Google+ friend Melissa.

Ali Krieger Sexy and Free

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

For small-tee tim the godless heathen, who I named.

Mercedes Nieto

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Say what you will about me, lads, but as far as I’m concerned, the most sensual and inviting part of her body is…her smile. With her long flowing hair coming in at a close second.

And no, there’s nothing wrong with the rest of it either.

How Return of the Jedi Should Have Ended

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Twenty-Five Soldiers Surprise Their Families

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Happy Friday, everybody.

You too, Dylan.

The Republican Candidates’ Circular Firing Squad

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Prof. Sowell, making sense, as usual.

So much of what has been said by various Republican candidates, as well as by the media, has been in the nature of unsubstantiated, peripheral or irrelevant talking points for or against particular candidates, rather than serious statements about serious issues confronting the nation.

In the tank for ObamaSo common has this approach become that even some conservative writers have come to the defense of John King, the CNN reporter who opened the South Carolina debate with a question about Newt Gingrich’s former wife. These writers have declared that question “legitimate,” in some undefined sense.

If all that “legitimate” means is that John King was not doing anything that many other reporters would have done in the same circumstances, that is making common practice a substitute for our own judgments about what is and is not relevant in a given context. Neither the audience in that room nor the millions watching on television were there to find out about Newt Gingrich’s marital problems. If it is a common practice for the media to focus on such things, so much the worse for the media — and for the country.

“The politics of personal destruction” — as Bill Clinton called it, and as he himself practiced it — is not the way to solve the nation’s problems. It has already poisoned the well of political discourse this season and claimed Herman Cain as its first victim, on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations by women with checkered pasts of their own.

You know what’s really upsetting about it all: The policies being advanced by the candidates, have nothing whatsoever to do with the cases that are being built against them, right before they go falling. And yet, each candidate that is selected for the roasting of the week or month, is the most ideologically sane out of all the contenders still in the running. Right up until he or she flames out, and then the crosshairs move on down the line to the next one. So ideological positions have nothing to do with it — but they do. Only the interested spectator who pays attention to long-term trends, can see it, but it’s unmistakable.

Alex Morgan and an Elephant

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Alex Morgan…

An elephant…

Check out that trick at 0:31. That impresses me. But the girl is cuter.

“Find Out if You Qualify”

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

I believe if you could scan the cable television channels and the AM radio band for the statement that is the title of this post, and plot on a graph the number of times per week that it is “hit” within those streams of chatter, you would find a sharp slope toward the right end of the graph that represents The Now. I have the impression the beginning of this upward slope would be sometime over the last decade, or maybe less, or maybe a bit more. And I have the impression, further, that there is an acceleration to it now, a sharp curving upward, and it is rapid.

Futhermore, I speculate, not recklessly I don’t think, that this is a harbinger of cultural doom. We should be much more worried about this metric, than any silly ol’ “mean earth temperature” or some such.

“No One Thought About Themselves”

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Fascinating discussion going on at Professor Mondo’s place, if not a lengthy or lively one. In fact, it’s fizzled out into convivial chatter about car trouble after four posts. Nothing wrong with that at all, but I do hope there is more open discussion about the weightier subject.

As many know by now, toward the end of President Obama’s State of the Union speech, He got down to business and answered the question that is most pressing upon the minds of His fellow Americans as they tune in to watch His State of the Union speeches, which is: Now that we’ve elected a President and thus selected one man’s opinions to enjoy privilege over all others, what are those exactly? This is perhaps not what the Founding Fathers had in mind as they drafted the language requiring a SOTU. But it has become one of the key purposes involved in having it.

Obama channeled the spirit of that goofy Elizabeth Warren quote about nobody-did-it-on-their-own, cleverly blending it with a military theme, specifically, using the mission to neutralize Osama bin Laden as a metaphor for what He wanted to discuss:

All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job – the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other – because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.

So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

Now for the critique. Conor Friedersdorf, at The Atlantic:

This is deeply wrongheaded.

Yes, we’re bound together as Americans in certain tasks, like defending the homeland and seeing that those who cannot care for themselves are provided with what they need. And there is agreement on certain broad goals: better educated children, safer infrastructure, etc. But a nation of 300 million free people doesn’t share a common purpose, nor should it; government’s role is to facilitate our ability to live as we see fit, not to bind us together like Navy SEALs on a military raid ordered up by our commander-in-chief. This nation is great because it affords such a diverse polity the opportunity to pursue happiness, not because “we built it together.”

(We didn’t in fact build it together.)

How can Obama say that the Bin Laden mission “only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other — because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back,” and add, “so it is with America”? It just isn’t that way with America. Lots of people within our polity mistrust one another, as is inevitable; in the post-WWII period of prosperity that Obama earlier invoked, there was segregation and the Red Scare and all manner of Americans short on mutual trust, and while there isn’t anything wrong with calling for less unfounded paranoia, positing that only a trusting nation can succeed fundamentally misunderstands our past and our future.

The strength of our system — the free markets, the best of our regulations, our very culture — is that it brings about progress even if the leader doesn’t himself know what energy investments will pay off; if we maintain the system, we’ll prosper even if the federal government doesn’t adeptly line up the economically efficient community college training program with the right applicant and employer; folks will find jobs even if we never develop the single perfect web site for job searches; we’ll thrive even if our diverse passions and values create mistrust and infighting.

Obama’s critics have long asserted that he doesn’t understand these core strengths of the American system. His State of the Union speech suggests they’re more right than I once imagined.

Here we get into a question about the Architect/Medicator divide, which I have a lot of trouble resolving, since I’m very far off on one side of the dividing barrier and this question has to do with people on the other side. The question doesn’t have to do with some of our achievements coming about because, and only because, we put aside our differences and labor together toward a common purpose; the President is right, in that that does happen, and it happens a lot. Nor is the question about the people who can understand this, and place priority on getting the message out to their peers and their fellows, that this is an important thing in life, that there are too many things that must be left undone if it doesn’t happen. That’s true too.

The question has to do with drive, zeal and enthusiasm. Our current President is under the impression that this is what America is all about — at least, He has said so. And this is plainly wrong. It’s wrong in the sense that, if this is all America represents, the entire experiment is a nullity and a futility. Mother England, after all, was driving us toward a common purpose just fine, and ideas of Independence were about as popular in the colonies as, oh, the invasion of Iraq…or even less so. Why revolt? Why separate? To even begin to answer the question, one must confess that Barack Hussein Caesar might’ve missed something. Perhaps He’d have a rationalization — in fact, I’m sure He does — but said rationalization cannot achieve its purpose unless it seeks to confuse, distort and obfuscate. Whether it does this to history, or to the current President’s remarks, I don’t care…it doesn’t much matter…what matters here is that we have an irreconcilable wrinkle in the layering between His comments and our nation’s true legacy.

Nor do I see anyone jettisoning their personal priorities and value systems for the sake of working with others. That part is a pure mythology, only it’s less forgivable than other mythologies because it is not artful, nor does it romanticize anything ancient. It is about the here and now, and there is something terribly distasteful about that. Show me the people who stop being Republicans and democrats, not only when they charge up stairs to shoot a terrorist, but other much more mundane things that involve working together. How about the ultimate one — voting? If the President’s comments mean anything at all, they would have to apply to that, since that’s the one time out of every two-to-four years where we must reconcile with the ideas of our fellows. Have we shown we have what it takes to do this? No. Are we spending any effort on it? I suppose some are, or at least are saying they are…would I bet money on it…no. It it important to us because we’re Americans? Em, no.

“I’d rather have clarity than agreement,” says Dennis Prager. And the rest of America says — well, some people like that, some don’t, but it really doesn’t matter what people say. The whole point to this observation is that when you ignore what people say and watch what they do, the whole damn country agrees with what he said. Not that we all like clarity all the time; some folks in fact prefer opacity, obfuscation and confusion. But everybody likes clarity at some time or another, because you need it in order to beat up the other guy.

I’m hearing the pre-election chatter, you really can’t get away from it, and it’s clear to me that the most opinionated folk are ready to cast their ballots to say just one thing above all other things. And that one thing they’re not ready to subordinate to any other thing for the sake of getting along with others, thank you very much; it must remain out in front. That’s just fine, in and of itself — although it makes President Obama clearly wrong in what He said — my one thing, just by way of offering an example, is we need to do a better job of rejecting socialism.

The loudest among us, and because they’re loud I have no idea if they’re more numerous or not, I suspect not…theirs is: The rich need to pay more. I mentioned up above the Elizabeth Warren quote, and sentiment that goes with it, that nobody built anything on their own. The intense and widespread enthusiasm that rises up around this makes me much more suspicious than the quote itself. How do you get happy and excited about the realizatoin that nobody is capable of doing anything on their own? That, I think, is a mask over the rich-pay-more idea. I have noticed that is where the talks go, inevitably, when allowed to continue for any length of time.

Other loud people say: I’m not a racist.

And then: We’ve got to stop being the world’s policeman.

We’ve got some daffy dames walking around saying: I just want to see more women in power.

Tea Party says: Would you quit spending so much money?

And then there are others. You can take it when you pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

A woman’s reproductive decisions are none of any man’s business.

Abortion is murder.

We have to do a better job of locking up the bad guys.

The death penalty is wrong.

We are to be judged, as a nation, by how we treat the least among us.

Family is important.

Kids require discipline.

Kids should be allowed to express themselves.

We have crime because we have poverty.

Or no, we have crime because of a persistent decay in our cultural values.

When we try to figure out how an election is going to go, or if we aren’t happy with how an election went so we write letters to the politicians to try to change their minds, or prevail upon them to at least see some other issue through our eyes, what we’re dealing with is salesmanship. We’re engaging in it, and trying to form alliances with other people who are engaging in it. The same goes for the politicians trying to win those elections, they’re engaging in salesmanship. Well, a large part of that has to do with figuring out the desires of the other person, and doing something to get those desires engaged. You can see it in some of the less competent and obviously unscrupulous salesmen; they put together a pitch of, if you do X, Y is the likely result, where Y is what they’ve figured out about your needs, wants and hopes. And if they’re really clumsy about it, you’re immediately thinking “waitaminnit, what does X have to do with Y?” And the answer is, nothing. Y is what you want, X is what the salesman wants. Making your friends listen to sales pitches about soap doesn’t have much to do with turning you a business mogul, working from home, too good for the rat race.

Some of these desires are layered on top of other desires. For example, I maintain nobody really gives a fig about allowing full-fledged same-sex marriage, as opposed to civil unions with full and equivalent state-recognized privileges and rights. In that direction lies a clear and workable compromise — which very often is not reached, because the same-sex-marriage people are so eager to realize their core message which is: “I am not bigoted against homosexuals.” By crusading for the more ambitious objective and thus generating conflict and rancor where it’s entirely unnecessary, they reveal that they’re not that interested in everybody getting along, after all. They certainly aren’t interested in Barack Obama’s vision, that everyone put aside their personal animosities and come together to charge up some stairs. They want to maintain differences. The message they want to broadcast isn’t merely about them being good people; it’s about them being better people than some other people. They require a control for their experiment.

That goes double for the tax-the-rich types. They do not want to get along with others. Do I even need to be pointing that out? They want to cast a vote to raise someone else’s tax bill, and furthermore, not a whole lot of anything else matters much to them. At this point I’ve entirely abandoned the notion that they lose so much as a wink of sleep about the public debt. They aren’t still pretending to, are they?

So in sum, President Obama is wrong. That is not to say He is entirely wrong about how we could be doing better; I would partially agree with Him in this much, that perhaps we could do ourselves less damage if we looked for opportunities to blend, find out what the other fellow is trying to do, and see what can be done about bringing that guy what he needs.

(Side point: An impressive portion of His speech dealt with cracking down on those among us who do this successfully, in a way for which the only suitable adjective would be “punitive,” as in, to punish. Quite bizarre.)

But that is not what America is all about. It isn’t one of our core values, or any other kind of value. It doesn’t exist that way in our past, or in our future, or in our present. Once people figure out what needs to be done, by whatever means, they seem to be triggering a locking mechanism of sorts. Something of a “why should I think this out again, I’ve already done it” instinct. And that’s not an entirely unhealthy thing.

What I think is unhealthy, is constantly demanding the other person reject his own individual conclusions and insights and values and priorities, in favor of the group-think dictates — if and only if the group happens to be aligned with the person doing the demanding. This fair-weather-friendship to the majority opinion. Our sense of justice and fair play ought to be prevailing upon us to realize, and support, the notion that if the group consensus overrules individual sensibilities, even when the individual sensibilities are better thought-out, then that needs to be happening either all the time or not at all. And frankly, I’m not seeing any Americans anywhere, really stepping up to the plate and saying it should happen all of the time. Instead, from what I see, it looks like everyone is placing their own cherished beliefs on the highest pedestal they possibly can, and that includes President Obama…and then trying to sell this narrative that it’s the other guy doing this, and it’s the other guy who has the problem.

One other thought: That list of one-liners up there that arouse all this passion, such that people vote on their own selected one-liner and only that one, ignoring everything else for all practical purposes…I have the perception that the length of this list, rather than its content, exerts the greatest influence on our ability to come together as a nation and make decisions at the ballot box. That is to say, when there are too many of these things, we lose our ability to competently express thoughts to be carried out by our representatives. This is an ability that we never have leveraged to impressive effect in our history since, well, ever; our national pride has had to be invested in simply having the elections. Well, that’s something all by itself. But for us to become even weaker still at this ability to elect effectively, is not a good thing, and more issues on the list certainly do hamper that ability.

I further have the impression that the list shrinks and grows, very slowly, in a cyclical way as older generations die off and newer ones take their place. Right now, I think, the list is about as long as it’s ever been. The obvious solution to the problem is that some compromise is in order. People need to do a competent and honest job of declaring what is important to them, versus what is just a nice-to-have; they need to learn the true art of compromise. I said “true,” and this is the source of my biggest complaint against the President’s speech. It represents the sort of false compromise for which Obama has become notorious. Stem to stern, it says “we all need to come together and make sacrifices, stop worrying about what we want, and put our focus on the things I want and My campaign contributors want.” It is an object lesson in the difference between true leadership and simple selfishness.

Who’s On First?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

A little on the silly side, but I thought it was kinda well done. Worth a grin.

Memo For File CLIV

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Let’s start with the first problem: The guy’s a freakin’ broken record…

Another problem, which I posted to my Hello Kitty of Blogging account:

What I’m learning from SOTU #8: We’ve got a lot of harebrained politicians out there who think financial solvency can be gauged *solely* by annual income. All throughout the fifty states. This is quite bizarre…we really let these people make decisions about things??

No distinction made between personal income and household income. No distinction made between gross and AGI. And forget all about whether you’re living in an urban mecca, or whether you’re out in the middle of ugly brown hills with dead grass all around with your nearest neighbor a third of a mile away. Barack Obama thinks, if He knows you’re making $200k a year, He knows what your standard of living is…and if He knows you’re making a million, He knows something else about how you live.

Dare I say it — He just isn’t very sophisticated. It’s like He never has had to live in the real world.

Then I noted,

What I’m learning from SOTU #15: Liberals think the most wonderful lesson to be learned from the American experiment, is about working together and laboring toward a common purpose. How sickeningly insulting…

Really, that’s all it was ever about? Patrick Henry said “Give me togetherness or give me death,” is that how that speech went?

After His Holiness relinquished the podium and The House adjourned, with another couple bottles of brew percolating in my system I had another thought…

Sometimes, when you’re exposed to something repeatedly, you notice new things about it even if the repeated-exposure has been going on awhile and the thing you’re being exposed to is very simple.

I noticed something about President Obama’s (>=400 times a year) speeches tonight, and it’s disturbing. This leitmotif of “should” and “should not.” From way early on, we’ve been doing something abysmally stupid, bumbling around like Keystone Cops, until the blessed day that Barack The Magnificent walked into line-of-sight and said “this should not be that way” and now we’re all supposed to look at each other and go duh, hey, He’s right, why are we doing this.

Like it’s really that simple, Pres. Obama? ALL of the time?? There couldn’t possibly have been some rational reason why well-intentioned people have been doing it this way, regardless of how little sense it makes to You? Isn’t this how You got in trouble with that promise to shut down Guantanamo? Isn’t this exactly how You got in trouble with that dumbass remark about the Cambridge police and how they “acted stupidly”?

I’ve personally met people like this, carrying around all the arrogance to think everyone else was being completely nonsensical until they came on the scene, channelling the long-awaited voice of reason. Just very few people like this I’ve met…very, very few. Thank God.

Actually, I had some other thoughts. They mostly dealt with some things noticed by many other people…not a new thing by any means…since this calendar year is divisible by 4, which means it’s an election year, Barack Obama is sliding a lot of sentences past His lips which might as well have found their way into the speeches of a shrill, strident, uncompromising conservative Republican president. Not just the words, but the thoughts as well. What a wonderful place America is, how worthy the country is of an unremitting and terrible defense.

One of my Facebook friends, former work colleague, actually said “…this is a rehash of his campaign promises and he didn’t deliver. I agree there is no money for most of it. I like what he said about offshored jobs though.” This, I think, captures the essence of President Obama’s speeches, as well as the thought process within the audience He is trying to reach: “I know He has no credibility and He doesn’t mean any of it, but I liked His words when He said…”

So there are your three problems.

1. I know everything, so if I see people doing something I don’t understand, it can’t possibly be that they’ve been working in their specialty for awhile and know something I don’t know — they are starved from the benefit of my common sense and I shall distribute it to them…
2. I can promise you someone living on $201k a year in Beverly Hills is livin’ large, swimming in cash, whereas someone living in Eastern Montana on $199k a year doesn’t have a pot to piss in, or a window to throw it out of…
3. I know Barack Obama is writing me rubber checks, but His signature is SOOOOO pretty!

Now solve those three problems, and have the government spend less money every year than it’s taking in — we’ll be on much better footing, and all of our significant problems will become temporary.

Leave them as they are, and we will continue on the course that we’re on. The embedded video up top is testament to that.

What Happened to Rand Paul

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

“Privatization would’ve been a better route to go…”

There’s a debate we need to have. Tom Daschle said “you can’t professionalize unless you federalize” a decade ago and it would seem, based on all I’ve been able to learn about it, that’s the extent of the serious debate we’ve had here.

We’re supposed to be so concerned about finding that enviable balance between reasonable security and full preservation of our civil liberties. Well, out of ten years, that’s not much serious discussion is it?

This Is Good XCII

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

From Kini the Aloha Guy.

Talent & Class

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

…and much more patience than I’d be able to show. Good to see.

Hat tip to Maggie’s Farm.

Nathaniel Grigsby’s Tombstone

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

From here.

Hat tip to Linkiest.

Replacement

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Fading…fading…fading…

Memo For File CLIII

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Newt’s doing very well. I’m pleased that there’s sand in the gears of the Romney machine and there’s a real chance someone else is going to get the nomination. I’m unhappy that it’s Newt.

But it’s bittersweet all the way. This is poetic justice all around.

I’m delighted to see the anguish and frustration on the part of the faux-intellectual faux-conservatives. You know, the ones like David Frum, for example, endlessly crying in their Pinot Noir about the perceived streak of “anti-intellectualism” in the Republican party. I cannot help but wonder what would happen if Romney bowed out right about now, making a Newt nomination a certainty…and then if Sarah Palin offered to step (back) in, what would they say? I imagine they’d still go for Newt because “we need someone with the intellectual horsepower to defeat The Great Barack Obama” or words to that effect. But more than a few would admit to seeing a certain positive appeal in Alaska’s former Governor that was not evident to them six months ago. Actually, I know this for fact; a few have personally told me so, which could not have been easy for them.

They won’t ‘fess up to learning the life lesson: Be very careful about wishing for a field of options to be narrowed down.

It also pleases me enormously to see the liberal disgust. The feeling of fear is palpable. Anyone who’s been paying the slightest bit of attention, understands that the lefties wanted an Obama/Romney contest, it would have been the next best thing to skipping the elections altogether and swearing in OBumbles as Dictator For Life. Liberals are disgusted with Newt because they know the conservatives are disgusted with Newt — and are willing to rally behind the former House Speaker anyway. They understand this means something. See, like I’ve been saying for awhile, when liberals try to get other liberals elected or re-elected, they act just like conservatives. They understand human incentive and how it connects with free trade…all of a sudden. They’re wondering something like: If the GOP is willing to do that, then what else is it willing to do?

In fundraising, Emperor Barack is 13% of the way toward His original goal, which it seems He’s going to have to abandon right about now. It’s still an impressive amount of money and He’s likely to be out in front this year money-wise, but it must be worrisome that He’s miscalculated the level of His own support so badly.

How to make it a sure thing that we’ll have a different President a year from now? Distill the next three paragraphs down to a bumper sticker slogan, and I think you’ll have this thing nailed shut:

YES Newt Gingrich, with all of his faults, is looking like an okay deal right now to Republicans as well as to the nation as a whole. It is not because the faults are hard to spot. It is a case of beggars-can’t-be-choosers. America is negotiating its own election from a position of weakness.

Across the ideological divide and all our more trivial disagreements, we are still Americans first. We are all unhappy with one thing or another because we do not like to see our country negotiate things from a position of weakness. But to half of us, three years ago it seemed like an okay idea for our country to — call it what you will. Bow a little. Go on an “apology tour.” Listen as its leader droned on endlessly about “for far too long we have [blank]” and “we [the country, not His administration] have not always done what’s right.” In short, look at herself the way any shrewd military commander wants his enemy to look at itself; questioning its own right & privilege to exist and thrive.

It is hypocritical and unworkable to cheer on the journey to the position of weakness, and indulge in shock and dismay as we reach the ultimate destination. In ’08, we planted. Now we’re harvesting.

One fellow Republican I know put it better than anybody else, I think: Obama out now, later on we’ll take out the trash.

“Stuff Liberals Say”

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Imitation is the Sincerest Form XXXVI

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

The first time I came up with the idea of building a fence to divide the country, at least on these pages, was in February of ’06. It isn’t that I relish the idea, the point is that I think it is unavoidable for many reasons. There are those of us who value opportunity over security and there are those of us who value security over opportunity; nothing wrong with an intermixed people sustaining different systems of personal priority, but it’s a problem because this affects how individuals see their life’s journeys. The opportunity people see the whole point of the exercise as one of learning and becoming more capable, so you can incrementally exchange the security you brought forward from childhood, sacrificing it for greater potential and personal growth. The security people just want to make sure everything is guaranteed, both the needs and the wants, and from what I’ve seen, aren’t too interested in doing more for themselves. In fact, they think that’s a bad thing. They’re frequently heard to say rich people should give back to the community, and so forth…

I have also noticed the opportunity-over-security people tend to think their way through problems logically — how else could it be done? — whereaas, the security-over-opportunity people would rather feel their way through problems, or around them, emotionally. I notice the security/feeler people regularly get me into trouble, because they feel like talking out these differences and they feel I’m receptive and open-minded about the issues, so they feel like a discussion would be a good idea. But then when I ask thinking, logical questions about their priorities, they feel like they’re being attacked…since they aren’t accustomed to it…and then they feel like I’m the one who cornered them, and therefore they feel like I must have started the discussion, and they feel like I’m badgering them and won’t give it up. Since I didn’t end up agreeing with them.

I also notice these thinker/opportunity-over-security types, whom I’ve called the Architects, don’t really give a rip how many other people are also Architects, or how many other people are the other kind, the Medicators….whereas, the Medicators crave much more control. They want everyone else to be a Medicator. We have become increasingly polarized since 9/11, and the Florida election debacle, in the wake of which we’ve seen nobody from either side is willing to compromise. And this is a great pity. For years, I have been re-telling a wonderful analogy somebody made, and I’ve never successfully been able to recover this column, about what would happen if we had a national radio station and, rather than twiddling with a tuning knob in our cars to select our own personal choices, we were to debate whether our monolith national station were to play soft rock, punk, rap, country, blues, classical or jazz. Can you imagine? It would be heated and rancorous, and it would be unnecessary. I have the perception we are becoming torn apart over a matter of personal taste, whose elevation to a national declaration is silly and unnecessary. Naturally, it’s just gettting more and more heated because nobody wants to let go of their personal priority system, and why the heck should they?

The logic to the “Architect” and “Medicator” names is explained here.

We need a wall. Hate to say it, but we need one, all across the country, and it has to be a high one, impassable, with checkpoints. Architects, the opportunity-seekers, do not want to share their toys — because they see life logically, and they know they’ve grown up, these are not toys anymore, they are tools and property they have acquired through wise decision-making, effort and sacrifice. Medicators don’t think anyone really grows up, therefore they want the toys to be shared. They say it’s because that’s what momma always said. But the truth is they want everything shared because they know, contributing as little as they do, they’d come out on top that way.

Now, I do not know if Burt Prelutsky reads my blog. I’ve always taken it as a given that hardly anybody does. But how else do you explain this gem, which appeared on his website sometime late last night…

It only makes sense to divide the United States along political lines. I’m not saying it would be easy, but it’s pretty obvious that the nation is growing increasingly polarized with roughly half the population favoring a huge federal government that oversees everything from smoking to nutrition, while the other half believes that the federal government has gone from being a necessary evil with the emphasis on necessary to one that is increasingly evil.

As I see it, the entire Pacific coast, along with the Northeast, favors Obama and the Democrats. Unfortunately, those two areas are separated by about 2,500 miles. Therefore, I would suggest connecting those two parts of the country with, say, a 30 mile corridor south of the Canadian border that would run through parts of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. That America would include California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey. We conservatives would give up Hawaii in exchange for Alaska. You can see where that would make for an odd-looking country, but no odder than the congressional districts that have been gerrymandered by the Democrats here in California.

I’m not being capricious about dividing a nation that has already cost 600,000 American lives lost during the war that was waged to preserve the Union. I simply see no other way to resolve the differences when half the population regards abortion as murder and the other half feels that young girls are entitled to state-funded abortions without parental consent. The same separation exists between those who favor same-sex marriages and those who don’t; those in favor of capital punishment and those who oppose it; those who respect the Second Amendment and those who’d like to abolish it; those who favor class and race warfare and those who believe their America is above such things; those who regard compulsory union membership as a good thing and those who don’t; those who defend public schools but send their own kids to private schools and those who believe in vouchers and home-schooling; those who oppose drilling for oil and digging for coal, and those who realize that alternative sources of energy might be sufficient for a house, but not for an industrial nation; and those who think that the rights of insects trump the rights of human beings and those of us who are sane.

Prelutsky, who writes much better than I do, kicks off the story with an incident about Martha’s Vineyard — you’ve heard of it, right? — being held hostage by a mean turkey. The turkey eventually makes the mistake of attacking the police, at which time the crisis is ended with some gunfire, and the cops end up being the bad guys because hey, it’s Martha’s Vineyard.

The self-defense aspect alone demonstrates that our house united cannot stand. We think of our liberals as being opposed to war, but while the conflict endures, we see what they’re really opposed to is one side enjoying advantages of which the other side is deprived; even across a battlefield, they want things equal-equal-equal. And what better way is there to ensure a war drags on indefinitely?

Can you recall so much as a single incident in which evil was defeated by good, by way of overwhelming, decisive and disproportionate force, and subsequently you could behold that the liberal conscience was soothed? Me neither. To our lefties, that is merely the beginning of the real conflict. And here’s the dirty little secret: Their extremists “wag the dog” of the moderates; the most intractable and militant run the show. Moderate-libs do not agree with extremist-libs that (as I’ve said many a time) when the schoolyard fight is started by one kid and finished by another, the punishment should be rained down upon the stronger boy who acted in self defense and threw the last punch. Moderates side with conservatives in saying the punishment should be for the kid who threw the first one.

But the most rapid and strident libs, who hate any kind of conflict, are never too fond of whoever ends one. And so everyone on their side of the fence, a fence which exists only in thought, becomes duty-bound to jettison common-sense and side with the whack-job lefties and say: No punishment for the kid who threw the first punch, the punishment is for whoever threw the last one. Because there is something nefarious and untrustworthy about possessing strength, even if it is used to end conflict and begin a new period of peace.

No, these two sides cannot be emulsified. Not in their current form.

But I do have a feeling that if the fence were to exist in practice, and the Medicators could go live on the other side and see how well their military-free police-free gun-free share-the-toys opportunity-free society works for a year or two, they might end up looking at life differently. Without the fence, their ideas look appealing because, although few will deign to acknowledge it, their ideas create conflict where conflict did not exist before. It is the conflict that makes it appear promising. The tragedy of these wise liberals being intermixed with these dullard conservatives who are stockpiling money and destroying the environment…that is what makes the liberals look wise. With the separation in place and the conflict removed, there would be a new perspective in place. I think it would be a highly educational one. For everybody.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

Thing I Know #408

Friday, January 20th, 2012

It’s important…

Thing I Know #408. You can’t aspire toward success if you won’t spot the fails.

Yeah, it has something to do with President OBumbles; it is now a regular occurrence for me to hear Him defended with the tired ol’ “doing the best that He can” and “it will take Him awhile to clean up the mess of you-know-who.”

The issue is not that, if this is the best defense available, that as good a guarantee as you’re gonna get that we’re looking at a flop. Although that’s true. The issue is calling out the flop. So no, this is not entirely concerned with our incumbent President; it’s a much, much bigger issue than Him.

It takes balls to call out flops. But the first step toward success is to know what it looks like. To know what a success looks like, you have to call out a fail when it’s staring you right in the face.

Too many among my so-called-countrymen will read that, and reply with something like “That’s right! and…” then they’ll go on to mention some guy who stopped being President three years ago today. Thereby continuing to illustrate exactly what I’m pointing out…as well as the plain and simple fact that they just can’t stop.

That other guy was in for eight years. He ran things for eight years. The average retail gas price (USD/gallon, all brands) for those eight years, assuming I ran my calculator right, was $2.174; that is not the price of a gallon of gas today. The average unemployment rate during those eight years was 5.2625%; that is not the unemployment rate today.

Can’t aspire toward success if you won’t spot the fails.